Hemel Town’s FA Cup dream continues after tonight’s gritty extra-time victory over Wingate & Finchley in a second qualifying round replay on the road.
The do-over at The Harry Abrahams Stadium in north-west London was required after Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Vauxhall Road.
Tudors’ fans were apprehensive over this tie against Isthmian League Premier Division outfit Wingate, one league below in the football pyramid, as they have struggled against lower-level opposition in recent seasons.
Hemel boss Dean Brennan made three changes to Saturday’s starting line-up, bringing in Matt Spring, James Kaloczi and Sam Hatton for Alex Osborn, Taylor Miles and Ben Greenhalgh.
It was substitute Osborn who struck the decisive blow when he came off the bench to score in the second-half of extra-time. He dribbled through the Wingate defence and finished low past keeper Shane Gore to give Hemel the 2-1 lead.
The comeback victory showed once again that this Tudors side have steel, after they came back from an early 1-0 deficit.
Wingate got off to a flying start after just five minutes when Marc Charles-Smith played in Reece Beckles-Richards and he composed himself before rifling home to give the hosts the 1-0 lead.
A mix-up in the area allowed former Blues player James Kaloczi in on goal ten minutes later but he fired well over the bar on his weaker foot.
There was a big chance for Rowan Liburd on 33 minutes but Gore managed to parry his effort wide superbly. The following corner then hit the woodwork but agonisingly landed over the bar.
Two minutes before the interval, Hemel had the ball in the back of the net but it was cancelled out for offside,
The Tudors got their deserved equaliser 13 minutes after the restart through their irrepressible skipper Jordan Parkes. He stepped up to curl a trademark free-kick into the top right corner to make it 1-1 for the midfielder’s seventh goal of the season in all competitions and his fourth in six games.
Afolabi Obafemi had a chance for the hosts shortly after when he rounded keeper Laurie Walker however his shot was deflected wide.
Ex-Tudor Ben Pattie had an audacious chance when he attempted to lob Walker from 40 yards but the in-form netminder was alert and tipped it over.
Walker was called into action again when the ball fell into the path of Obafemi and he tried to slide it under Walker but he saved it with his feet.
Obafemi had the first chance in extra-time when he was set through on goal but shot wide.
Next up for the Tudors is a trip to National League South newcomers Chippenham Town, who are currently in 16th place in the table as opposed to Hemel’s eight-placed ranking.
Hemel: Laurie Walker, Joe Howe, Kyle Connolly, Jordan Parkes (captain), Phil Walsh, Matt Spring, James Kaloczi, Sam Hatton, Rowan Liburd, Charlie Sheringham, Callum Driver. Substitutes: Ben Greenhalgh, Alex Osborn, Taylor Miles, Charlie Hayford, Danny Boness.